4 Muscle Groups That Muay Thai Strengthens

·5-min read
PHOTO: Evolve MMA
PHOTO: Evolve MMA

There is no mistaking it, a Muay Thai class is the ultimate total body workout. Ask anyone who has trained in the “Art of Eight Limbs” and they will tell you it’s one of the most intense workouts you can ever experience. It’s fast-paced, deliberate, and explosive movements strengthen different parts of your body.

A Muay Thai class is truly a unique experience. That’s why many people are drawn to the martial art to get themselves in supreme shape. For weight loss and muscle toning, Muay Thai has no parallel.

As a martial art for self-defence, Muay Thai is extremely effective. It can help you diffuse any physical altercation quickly and effectively. It will equip you with the combat skills necessary to protect yourself and those around you at all times, which is why many men, women, and even children study this discipline.

Moreover, Muay Thai helps you achieve the physique and athleticism of a well-conditioned athlete.

Have you ever seen the physique of a Muay Thai fighter? It’s lean, flexible, but most importantly, strong. That’s because the compound movements performed within Muay Thai’s techniques strengthen all sorts of muscles that you may not even be aware of.

Let’s take a quick look at the different muscles Muay Thai training directly engages. Today, Evolve Daily shares four muscle groups Muay Thai strengthens.

1. Arm And Shoulder Muscles

Muay Thai deals with the science of punching much like the sport of boxing does. Although the stance is quite different because of the existence of kicks and knees, the fundamentals are pretty much the same.

Power is transferred from the base, through to the core, and to the end of the fist. It’s a smooth, quick, and explosive motion. But people may not realise that power is usually transferred to the fist via the shoulders. The shoulders act like pistons, delivering punches with speed and velocity.

The major difference between Muay Thai and boxing, however, is the existence of elbows. In Muay Thai, fighters can use elbow strikes. Many of Muay Thai’s boxing combinations include the use of elbows.

This, of course, stimulates different parts of the arm and shoulder muscles, particularly the triceps and biceps. It also explains why Muay Thai fighters have very cut and defined shoulders.

Karate World Champion Hiroki Akimoto training Muay Thai at Evolve MMA in Singapore.
Karate World Champion Hiroki Akimoto training Muay Thai at Evolve MMA in Singapore. (PHOTO: Evolve MMA)

2. Hip And Leg Muscles

A major part of Muay Thai’s offensive maneuvres involve the use of kicks and knees. There are a plethora of different techniques from roundhouse kicks, push kicks, switch kicks, question mark kicks, and the like.

Taking things a step further, Muay Thai also features leg sweeps, dumps, and even the occasional flying knee.

That being said, there’s a lot of compound movements involving the muscles surrounding the legs and hips, such as the gluteal muscles and the quadriceps. Each muscle serves a different purpose in the execution of Muay Thai’s many kicking techniques.

During training, you’ll be kicking a lot. It’s one of those things where the more you do it, the better you get. Repetition plays a massive role in Muay Thai training, and the more time you put in the gym, the faster you see improvements.

Strengthening these muscles separately, therefore, also improve kicking technique and power in Muay Thai.

3. Core Muscles

Much like in any sport, the core muscle group plays a massive role in the function of all connected body parts. Think of it as the engine that makes your body run. The stronger your core, the more explosive your movements, and in turn, the more powerful your strikes.

The core muscles include the internal and external obliques, upper and lower abdomen, diaphragm, and the like.

Everything from kicks, punches, elbows, and knees, and all techniques in between, draw power from your core. Which means this area of your body is trained constantly on a daily basis. Every technique performed in some way shape or form engages the core. That’s probably why Muay Thai fighters are absolutely ripped.

Muay Thai also has you dealing with body shots. A lot of fighters like to dig to the body with roundhouse kicks, or even punches. So you’re always clenching your abdomen to deal with the impact. This, of course, fortifies your midsection and makes you more resistant to body shots.

Multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao training at Evolve MMA (Far East Square) in Singapore.
Multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao training at Evolve MMA (Far East Square) in Singapore. (PHOTO: Evolve MMA)

4. Back Muscles

Last but not least, Muay Thai training strengthens your back muscles.

Typically, the muscles attached to the back of the spine help humans stand, as well as lift heavy objects. Just as you engage the core muscles during training, you equally engage the back muscles to complement and stabilise your movements, especially when executing kicks and knees.

The back muscles also help in allowing you better shock absorption, which in turn gives you better balance. And of course, balance is very important in any stand-up martial art.

Having a strong back enables you to deliver your techniques with good balance, and helps you stay upright with a good center of gravity. Having a solid base is essential in Muay Thai.

Another aspect of Muay Thai that engages back muscles is the clinch. When fighting for position and pulling your opponent off balance, strong back muscles will come in handy.

This article, “4 Muscle Groups That Muay Thai Strengthens”, originally appeared on Evolve MMA, Asia’s No. 1 martial arts organisation.